Anchor opportunities (Part I)

Not without a mooring

The promise of Cheetah Gym has been broken, and [Update: Cheetah Gym is on again! (See One step backwards, two steps forward on Milwaukee Avenue.)] Milwaukee Avenue is drifting (see Without an
anchor), but this stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square is not without a mooring to make fast an anchor.

The former Grace’s Furniture store at the south end of this stretch is back on the market (rental, at least) (photo, right).

And on the north end of the stretch, the group of buildings on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue that are part of the Chicago Milwaukee-Diversey- Kimball Landmark District, all have vacancies above the first floor (and some on the first floor as well).

What if on Milwaukee Avenue…

  • There was a center for a non-traditional — or maybe a retro traditional — art or craft like woodworking, weaving (and spinning and knitting, etc.), dressmaking (the City of Chicago is pushing the fashion envelope), or paper arts (making, design and printing, origami, etc.) in the Grace’s Furniture building? Artists could sell their wares and also work on site so that others can watch them at work like the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia?

Grace’s Furniture building –
2616-18 Milwaukee Ave.

  • There was a place like Peoria NEXT to incubate the entrepreneurs in engineering or science that graduate from the many Chicago universities? Wouldn’t it be nice if Logan Square got a share of State of Illinois economic development funds?
  • There was a retail incubator for mom and pop shops to learn the myriad things there are to know about starting a new business (see “Oxford Co. creates a downtown Ann Arbor retail incubator“)? Successful graduates could eventually lease storefronts on Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square.

Milwaukee-Diversey-Kimball Landmark District

  • The Milwaukee-Diversey-Kimball Landmark District buildings were renovated with state of the art green technology and the floors above street level were converted to office use? The buildings could offer tours of their successful green renovation and would complement the Green Exchange further east on Diversey Avenue.
  • The beautiful building at the southwest corner of Milwaukee and Diversey Avenues that now houses the Gap Outlet was converted for City or State government offices? That building once housed a Goldblatt’s department store as did the City’s Goldblatt’s Office Building in the East Village neighborhood and the DePaul Center in the Loop that also houses City offices present day.


A conversation starter: What else? Can’t think of anything? Put your (twisted) thinking cap on with the innovation exercise at Speak up and tell us.


More at Opportunities in the making:  Cheetah Gym.

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One Response to Anchor opportunities (Part I)

  1. Carter says:

    I like the business incubator idea. One of the ideas I had that would be a worthy use of TIF funds (but which I am told would not qualify) is a permit center for Logan Square similar to the one at Addison and the river – especially in this housing market, finding a way to make it easier for homeowners to do their own repairs and improvements (legally) would be great, and would have the side benefit of giving local businesses like Frerk and Home Depot more customers. I can’t begin to tell yuo how many people I know who would love to replace a porch (or whatever) but can’t stand the hassles and expense of the current clout-burdened system.

    Another useful government office would be one that facilitates the proper permits and helps homeowners navigate the tax incentive maze of red tape to install solar panels on their home. As energy costs continue to soar, this is a no-brainer IMO. yes, capital up-front costs are large (perhaps a program to provide low-rate loans would also be possible), but the savings are huge in the long run, as well as the peace of mind of knowing you aren’t at the mercy of fluctuating energy costs. The benefit to society is that the more people who get the solar systems that convert to electricity, the less stress on the grid during peak usage times for air conditioning, not to mention many homes would likely feed power into the grid.

    I’m going tonight to a panel discussion hosted by the Illinois Solar Association, it’s on the state of solar power in Illinois – the biggest hurdle I see outside of the capital is that only installers seem to have the knowledge to get the tax incentives. But I think a lot of people don’t want the sales job that comes with that information; a more objective, 3rd-party is desperately needed.

    Sounds like a niche for a non-profit as we’ve seen the consequences of clout and corruption in government: home — no, not just home, but — building (so small commercial property owners could participate) improvement/expediter/resource/ incentive experts. I wonder if Neighborhood Housing Services might take on something like this. I’ve been hoping they would expand The Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative to Logan Square. ~ Lynn

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